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Extension Entomology

Tag: corn earworms

Sorghum Update – ‘Ragworms’, ‘Headworms’, and Aphids

–by Dr. Jeff Whitworth and Dr. Holly Davis

Late planted sorghum is still causing considerable concern throughout north central Kansas as the leaves grow out of the whorl and are significantly ‘chewed up’ looking.  These ‘ragworms’, primarily corn earworms and fall armyworms but also a few cattail caterpillars, are still active in younger plants.

 

As these plants reach reproductive stages, i.e. flowering, there will be a high probability of having ‘headworms’ (corn earworms and fall armyworms) infesting the kernels.  Sorghum heads are the most vulnerable between flowering and soft dough.  There are currently significant infestations of these headworms throughout north central Kansas with worms in various stages of development.  Headworms cause approximately 5% loss per worm, per head.

 

There are large numbers of corn leaf aphids, greenbugs, and even a few yellow sugarcane aphids around north central Kansas.  The first report of a sugarcane aphid colony from Saline Co. was made on 16 August. These aphids are attracting, and providing food for, large numbers of beneficials which seem to be keeping aphids relatively well controlled.  Insecticide applications have not been needed for aphids. More information on sugarcane aphids in Kansas can be found at My Fields: https://www.myfields.info/pests/sugarcane-aphid

 

For more information regarding sorghum insect pest management please refer to the KSU 2018 Sorghum Insect Management Guide: https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/mf742.pdf

Sorghum Update – (chinch bugs, corn leaf aphids, corn earworms)

–by Dr. Jeff Whitworth and Dr. Holly Schwarting

 

Chinch bugs continue to be very active in both corn and sorghum throughout north central Kansas.  Both nymphs and adults are present.

 

Many adults are still mating, which indicates that there are more eggs, nymphs, and adults yet to come.  One consolation relative to the numerous chinch bugs in sorghum fields is that the four spotted egg eater, Collops quadrimaculatas, seems to be plentiful as well.  They have been collected in samples while sweep sampling alfalfa and are also present in sorghum fields.  These little beetles are predacious on insect eggs, and it has even been reported that they feed on chinch bug eggs.  Not sure they will be able to provide a great deal of control on chinch bug populations but it sure can’t hurt!

 

Corn leaf aphids are also very plentiful throughout north central Kansas.  These aphids usually feed on developing corn tassels and silks, but probably are more commonly associated with, or at least noticed in, whorl stage sorghum.  These aphid colonies sometimes produce enough honeydew, and it is so sticky, that often the sorghum head gets bound up in the whorl and therefore doesn’t extend up properly.  These colonies are not usually dense enough on a field-wide basis to justify and insecticide application.  These plentiful aphids are also serving as a food source for many predators, i.e. lady beetles, green lacewings, etc.

 

 

Corn earworms are still plentiful in corn but as they mature, pupate, and become adults they most likely will migrate to sorghum to feed on developing kernels (between flowering and soft dough), and soybeans where they will feed on developing beans within the pods.

For more information on sorghum and soybean pest management, please consult the KSU Sorghum Insect Management guide: https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/mf742.pdf

And the KSU Soybean Insect Management Guide: https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF743.pdf

 

 

Soybean Pest Update

–by Dr. Jeff Whitworth and Dr. Holly Schwarting

What a difference a few days makes in the world of insects!  Two weeks ago, and prior, there were very few insect pests in soybeans throughout north central and south central Kansas.  Now, most soybean fields are loaded, with more coming all the time.  Some of the insects common to soybean fields throughout north central, south central, and south east Kansas right now are as follows:

Dectes stem borer adults. These have been actively depositing eggs in petioles for a few weeks although populations seem somewhat reduced compared to the past few years.  Larval tunneling within the petiole and resultant petiole death has not yet become very apparent.

Dectes

Bean leaf beetle adults. These feed on the leaves, usually causing mostly round or oblong holes, which are of little consequence.  However, these same adults can also feed on the pods which may damage the bean inside and thus cause significant yield reductions.

bean leaf beetle feeding

Bean leaf beetle

bean leaf beetle pod feeding

“Worms”. There are also significant numbers of a variety of “worms” or caterpillars in most soybean fields.  These include various stages of yellowstriped armyworms, which may feed on the leaves but not enough to impact plant health or yield.

yellowstriped armyworm

There are also numerous green cloverworms, which are also leaf feeders.  These are the “inchworms” that wiggle like crazy when disturbed.

green cloverworm_feeding

They are usually highly susceptible to a fungus that turn infected larvae white and decimates the population rapidly over large areas.  Green cloverworms may cause a great deal of concern because of the defoliation they cause, but rarely are they any real detriment to the plant.  However, make sure to properly identify the worms as there are also corn earworms, aka soybean podworms, which may be mistaken for green cloverworms.

Soybean podworm

Soybean podworms will feed on leaves but more worrisome is when they start feeding on the developing seeds within the pods.  Two or three pods fed on per plant may justify control if there are still larvae in the field.  Otherwise, they may have pupated and treatment should be delayed until sampling indicates the next generation of larvae is actively feeding on seeds within pods.

Alfalfa caterpillars are also feeding on leaves and adding to the worm variety but will not cause any detrimental impact on yield.

alfalfa caterpillar and green cloverworm

Sorghum

–by Dr.  Jeff Whitworth and Dr. Holly Schwarting

Sorghum is in various stages of development around NC Kansas. The late planted, which seems to be just in the whorl stage- to soft dough, or even farther along. Corn earworms (often called sorghum headworms/soybean podworms etc., depending upon the crop infested) are causing significant infestations and therefore concern because of the highly visible whorl feeding and subsequent “ragged”-looking leaves as they expand from the whorl. This feeding probably will have no effect on yield, and by the time the damage is noticed the worms are mostly finished feeding anyway. Therefore, treatment is rarely justified. Feeding on the kernels however which is the marketable product is a different story. Sampling for head-feeding worms is really relatively easy. Just take a small white bucket, bend the head over into the bucket and vigorously shake it against the sides of the bucket which dislodges the larvae. Then count the worms and divide into the number of heads sampled.

Sorghum headworms_small

Rule of thumb: kernel-feeding larvae cause 5% loss/worm/head. Sorghum heads are most vulnerable from flowering to soft dough. These larvae are relatively susceptible to insecticides so efficacy is usually pretty good. However, these insecticides will reduce beneficial insect populations which can help later if any aphid populations develop.

Sorghum hedworm_single

Sorghum Update

–by Jeff Whitworth and Holly Schwarting

Double cropped sorghum in north central KS seems to have a significant infestation of “ragworms”.  The larvae are a combination of fall armyworms and corn earworms and are of various sizes.

corn earworm_ragworm

windowpane ragwormfall armyworm_ragworm

 

Leaf feeding in the whorl by either species is highly visible but should not have a significant effect on the plants or yield.

windowpane ragworm

ragworm feeding

Also, most fields in north central KS are infested with aphids.  Corn leaf aphids can produce a great deal of honeydew but mostly in the whorls.  This honeydew may retard head extension but usually does not affect many plants over a large area.

corn leaf aphids

greenbugs

Yellow sugarcane aphids

Also found greenbugs and yellow sugarcane aphids.  None of the invasive sugarcane aphids were detected in north central Kansas.  However, many beneficials are, and will continue to be, present in sorghum fields as evidenced by the numerous green lacewing eggs and lady beetle eggs.

lacewing eggs

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